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19/04 Ebbw 64 Llanharan 7
26/04 Bonymaen v Ebbw (Lge 2:30)




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'REL' is all about figures this week as we approach 1000 league points for the season...

Ebbw Vale 64 Llanharan 7
Ebbw Vale completed a second successive undefeated league season at home, and marked two years to the weekend since they last lost in the league at ECP. After Llanharan formed a guard of honour to applaud the champions onto the field - a classy action, warmly received - and a minute's silence to mark the passing of Fred Russell, a long-time Ebbw fan whose sons Paul and Marcus did so much for the club in years gone by, Ebbw began at a tremendous pace and were 12-0 up after less than ten minutes as Chris Thomas, then Damien Hudd, capitalised on line out drives to cross for tries, the latter converted by Iain Smerdon.

Llanharan attacked from the restart and enjoyd a period of pressure that was ended when Gareth Rusby-Davies emerged from a maul inside his own 22 and set his three-quarters off in a flowing movement that was finished by full back Tom Watkins. Smerdon's kick made it 19-0. The bonus point try came after great combination by Carl Meyer, Jordan Howells and Luke Davies put Wes Cunliffe over, and there was time before the break for Howells to finish another lovely move by the backs to take the scoreboard clicking over to 29-0.

The third quarter was somewhat dull from a home fan's perspective. Ebbw seemed to have lost momentum and Llanharan came back into the game, playing with pride and passion and, much more importantly, skill and organisation. Their pack battered away at the Ebbw line and, eventually, Andrew Rosen made it over the whitewash for a well deserved score. Outside half Corey Rees converted (older Ebbw supporters will recall his father, Paul, known as 'Pablo' who played for us as a very effective attacking full back in the late 1970s).

This seemed to be the reminder that Ebbw needed and the last quarter turned into an exhibition of running rugby that signed off the home season in devastating and memorable style. The Steelmen attacked from everywhere and at every opportunity, with backs and forwards combining to breathtaking effect. Five tries came in 20 minutes, the first to Iain Smerdon after the home forwards pushed their opponents off their own scrum ball. Carl Meyer converted and was then on hand to start off one of the tries of the season, breaking from deep inside his own 22 at the clubhouse end and linking with fellow centre Jordan Howells who scored his second. Meyer again converted. More flowing rugby led to a try for replacement Dai James and, to the delight of his legion of fans, Wes Cunliffe ran in two late ones to bag a hat trick and make the final score 64-7.

Scorers
Ebbw - Tries: Chris Thomas, Damien Hudd, Tom Watkins, Wes Cunliffe (3), Jordan Howells (2), Iain Smerdon, Dai James.Conversions: Iain Smerdon (4) Carl Meyer (3)

Llanharan - Try: Andrew Rosen. Con - Corey Rees.

Man of the Match: Carl Meyer.

The team was:
Tom Watkins, Wes Cunliffe, Jordan Howells, Carl Meyer, Luke Davies; Iain Smerdon, Chris Thomas; Ross Jones, Mathew WIlliams, Rob Sevenoaks; Damien Hudd (capt), Ashley Sweet; Gareth Rusby-Davies, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson. Bench: Luke Liddington, Jonny Bowen, Kier Hughes, Lewis Young, Dai James. 

More signings announced
Ebbw Vale RFC Chairman Jonathan Jones has announced three more signings, and it's great news for supporters that front row trio Ross Jones, Mathew Williams and Rob Sevenoaks have put pen to paper ahead of the club's first season back in the Premiership. Mathew 'Chunky' Williams's career as a Steelman spans 11 seasons and over 200 games. His experience as a Premiership player will be invaluable to the pack, the team and the whole club. Props Ross Jones and Robert Sevenoaks have locked out the scrum, destroyed opponents and still had enough energy to put in countless tackles and carry the ball into the heart of opposition territory time after time over the last four years. Jonathan said, "We're blessed with an abundance of front row talent at Ebbw Vale. It's been the envy of other Championship sides and will be the envy of other Premiership sides. Chunky, Ross and Rob are absolutely essential ingredients in our recipe for success and we couldn't be more delighted that all three have signed already."

This comes on top of the news that the mighty second row pair of Damien Hudd and Ashley Sweet have already signed contracts for next season. "They've been here throughout our time in Division One and the Championship," said Jason Strange. "They've never given less than total commitment in everything, on and off the pitch. Damien, as club skipper for four years has been a truly talismanic figure and I fiirmly believe he is playing the best rugby of his career. I can see him leading this club for some time yet! Ashley, too, has been an absolutely outstanding performer, a model of consistency and a crucial part of all we have sought to do. I couldn't be more pleased than knowing they have both signed up for the Premiership campaign next season."

There will be more signings announced next week.

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